ROTTERDAM Cesare Maniccia grew up in a small town near Rome, but today he’s proud to call America home while embracing his Italian tradition.
The Sons of Italy Lodge No. 321 will honor Maniccia at its 97th Annual Columbus Day Dinner on Friday, Oct. 26, at the Mallozzi’s restaurant on Curry Road in Rotterdam. The group is honoring him for his community involvement during his 34 years as a member of various Sons of Italy organizations.
Maniccia, a Schenectady resident, said being recognized is humbling, and added he thinks there are a lot more people more deserving of it than he.
“You do things because you like it; if you got some rewards, that is a plus,” he said.
Maniccia started the youth soccer program in Rotterdam and helped form the Capital District Youth Soccer League. Some people refer to him as “the father of youth soccer,” but he joked he is more like “the grandfather” now.
Ever since he was younger, he had an interest in soccer and even played at the professional level. He has coached all levels and ages of soccer on teams in London, England and in the Italy Cup. He was honored in New York City and in the Capital District for his dedication to the sport and in 2005, he was elected to the state Soccer Hall of Fame.
Outside of soccer, Maniccia tries to lend a helping hand to anyone in need.
“Whenever everybody needs anything,” he said, people turn to him for help.
After first moving to the United States in 1957, he settled in the country for good in 1968 after getting married and having his first child. The transition wasn’t an easy one, but he came to the U.S. to take advantage of the opportunities it offered.
“I worked during the day and I learned the English at night,” he said.